Train Travel for Senior Citizens: Treat Yourself!
A rather neglected mode of transportation in the 21st Century is on railways. Train travel in the United States, Canada, Europe and other continents provides an opportunity for seeing miles and miles of spectacular countryside with the comfort of seats or sleeping berths provided. Not having to drive on interstates and state highways is a pleasure many senior citizens enjoy, let alone not having to navigate through mega-metropolises that terrorize the hardiest of us.
This article features Amtrak travel in the United States. There are four major cross-country routes connecting Washington State, Oregon, California with New England, the Mid-Atlantic States, and Georgia/Florida… and many cities in between. In addition, the Chicago hub shows routes that span all directions, connecting many cities and small towns in the Midwest with both coasts and Michigan/Wisconsin communities.
The routes (broken down into seven regions) feature some of the more spectacular sites in the United States, including the New England color changes in autumn, the Northwestern coast line in all seasons, the Texas Big Bend Country, and the Gulf of Mexico coastline—just to name a few. Routes are described in full on the site.
The Amtrak web site offers visitors the option to peruse tour and route possibilities throughout the country; and when a choice is made, the reservation can be completed online. Some of the choices include reserving a coach seat (very reasonably priced), a single seat that converts into a bed, or a bedroom with two berths for a couple, or additional sleeping accommodations for a family of four. Generally, meals in the dining car are included with the price of the ticket as well as other amenities, including use of the lounge for cocktails and soft drinks while watching the countryside in a scenic-cruiser (or eating in the lounge if a dining car is not available on your route); checked baggage and onboard wheelchair ramps are offered on many routes.
The Amtrak site also provides information about what to expect at the station, schedules for all trains on all routes in the country, special ‘hot’ deals offered that also include expiration dates, and what to expect when traveling with Amtrak.
Two of SCJ’s editors recently traveled from Phoenix to Dallas on the Texas Eagle, giving the entire trip two thumbs up! The rest of the staff are eager to give train travel a try.
SCJ recommends that readers consider Amtrak travel instead of destination flying or road trips. Advantages include being able to enjoy the countryside rather than having to focus on driving, or not seeing it at all from a plane; having meals provided three times a day (on long-distance trains offering this service), with snacks available in the lounge car; and falling asleep at night with the marvelous rhythmic gentle sway of the railway car accompanied by the quiet clicking of the rails.